Rate hikes, past drought make conservation key | SteamboatToday.com

Rate hikes, past drought make conservation key

— With increased water-usage rates, conservation has new importance for Hayden residents: Conserve water to conserve money.
Although recent rainfall and snowpack is improving the water situation locally, last summer’s drought has forced city councils and town boards nationwide to take preventative measures in the form of irrigation regulations. The town of Hayden will be doing this again this summer, restricting residents to irrigating every other day.
But others say every other day is not restrictive enough.
Given that more than 75 percent of residential water is used to keep lawns and gardens green, Routt County Environmental Health Director Mike Zopf said irrigation should be restricted to every three days. Also, during hot summer months, watering in the early morning or late evening is more efficient because less of the water evaporates.
The Hayden Town Board said it will restrict irrigation to every third day only if there is another drought or supply runs low.
C.J. Mucklow, director of the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Service in Routt County, also says watering less frequently is most important.
Routt County has clay loam soil that absorbs water slowly, Mucklow said. Because water stands on the ground surface longer, grass and plants can survive with less water here than on land with different soil.
Mucklow also recommended raising the height of the blades on lawn mowers so there is less opportunity for evaporation. Aerating the ground helps by allowing maximum air and water to penetrate the soil. Also, people can recycle bath water or dishwater.
“(Conservation) is pretty fundamental,” Mucklow said. “It drives the basis of the economy. It’s critical for agriculture, development, for lots of things. It’s people’s duty to conserve as much as they can.”
Dr. Arthur Houk, pastor of the First Baptist Church, has come before the Town Board several times with examples of how residents can conserve to ease the financial burden of the increased water rates.
Houk previously lived in Los Angeles, and like all other residents at the time, was issued a showerhead with a valve on it. He said that by turning the water off while not actually using it to get wet or rinse — while soaping up, for example — his family cuts its monthly water bill in half.
He has also suggested putting a brick, or anything else that would displace water, in toilet tanks to conserve water. Houk said placing a brick or simply a sealed plastic bag filled with air could displace enough water to make a difference for the benefit of the environment, and the wallet.

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